Google just announced on August 16 to build a subsea cable network connecting Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The project, named Apricot, will be ready for service in 2024, stretching 12,000 km in total. Earlier this year, Google also announced the Echo subsea cable, which will connect the U.S., Singapore, Guam and Indonesia. Both cable networks will be complementary.
As of now, 98% of international internet traffic is ferried globally via subsea cables. As digital sovereignty becomes a geopolitical priority for leading economies around the world, data security has also grown in significance, especially given the integral role played by data in AI, Cloud Computing and the overall fourth industrial revolution.
Consequently, submarine cable networks have also gained geopolitical significance. In 2017, the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) co-owned by Google and Facebook already entered dangerous waters as it sought to establish the first direct connection between the US and Hong Kong. It got derailed after the US Justice Department raised concerns about its national security implications, triggered by the Chinese government’s increasingly assertive role in Hong Kong. Eventually, the fiber branch linking the US to Hong Kong was left in disuse, while the ones connected to Taiwan and the Philippines were activated.